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Capital taxation during the U.S. Great Depression

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  • Ellen R. McGrattan

Abstract

Previous studies quantifying the effects of increased capital taxation during the U.S. Great Depression find that its contribution is small, both in accounting for the downturn in the early 1930s and in accounting for the slow recovery after 1934. This paper confirms that the effects are small in the case of taxation of business profits, but finds large effects in the case of taxation of dividend income. Tax rates on dividends rose dramatically during the 1930s and, when fed into a general equilibrium model, imply significant declines in investment and equity values and nontrivial declines in gross domestic product (GDP) and hours of work. The results are amplified if businesses make intangible investments which can be expensed from taxable capital income.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 670.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:670

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Keywords: Depressions ; Taxation ; Profit ; Dividends;

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References

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  1. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott (), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
  2. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Dividend Taxes and Corporate Behavior: Evidence from the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut," NBER Working Papers 10841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  4. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
  5. Timothy Kehoe & Edward Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Technical Appendices kehoe02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
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Cited by:
  1. Benjamin Born & Alexandra Peter & Johannes Pfeifer, 2011. "Fiscal News and Macroeconomic Volatility," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse08_2011, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Alexis Anagnostopoulos & Eva Carceles-Poveda, 2010. "Dividend and Capital Gains Taxation under Incomplete Markets," Department of Economics Working Papers 10-06, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  3. Davig, Troy A. & Foerster, Andrew T., 2014. "Uncertainty and fiscal cliffs," Research Working Paper RWP 14-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

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